South Peace News
The Town of High Prairie will again close its office Sept. 30 for the second National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
At its regular meeting Aug. 9, council approved a motion by Councillor James Waikle that council recognize National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 annually and amend the personnel policy to include the day as a statutory holiday.
Further council passed a motion from Waikle that the town lower flags at municipal sites to half mast and advertise events on the town website.
Last year, the town closed its office for the day and lowered the flags.
“We did this last year and recognized it as a holiday,” Mayor Brian Panasiuk says.
The national day was introduced in 2021 by the federal government to remember those students who died in the hands of Indian residential schools and the survivors of residential schools that operated in Canada from 1831 to 1998.
“Being a federal statutory holiday does not mean municipalities or employers within Alberta need to provide the day off or pay a premium to employees who work on that day,” interim CAO Hermann Minderlein says in a report to council.
“As many of our residents and some employees are Indigenous and we have many neighbouring Indigenous communities within our region, some form of recognition is appropriate.”
Waikle agrees as he made the motion.
“Giving them this day as a statutory holiday is the right thing to do,” Waikle says.
Councillor John Dunn first suggested the town also promote the special day on its website by adding links to events planned for the day.
“We should promote and support events,” Dunn says.
Councillor Sacha Martens asked if any events were scheduled yet.
Dunn says he was not aware of any events planned.
Minderlein says municipalities are discussing and deciding whether to operate or not, and what could be done to recognize the special day.
In one municipal survey with 32 respondents, 17 indicated they were closing operations, four are not making a change to operations, and 10 are still deciding, Minderlein says.
In another survey, with 27 respondents, four indicated they were closing operations, six will remain open and 17 were undecided.
Another survey asked what municipalities were doing to recognize the day.
Results showed that six municipalities were lowering their flags, three were hosting public events in partnerships with Indigenous communities, three were acknowledging the territory and land they were located and three were supporting local Indigenous art and culture.